“Yoga is such a personal journey. I believe it finds us when we need it most, and then it changes and we grow with it. It is a constant and fluid journey of self discovery, self acceptance and love. It’s the balance of give and take, push and pull, challenge and surrender,“ Sjana Elise Earp
Contorting her body into shapes of Natarajasana and Hanumanasana, Vinyasa flows, headstands, handstands, and forearm stands – Sjana Elise Earp‘s Instagram is filled with intricate moves performed against a backdrop of nature. In between her yoga posts, her 1.6 million Instagram followers will find images of Sjana at the beach, long hair loose down her back, and a large smile spread across her face. As calming as it is inspiring.
With Sjana having just been announced as the new ambassador for Maui Moisture’s new Shine + Awapuhi collection, we decided to use the occasion to sit down with her for a chat. Here, she talks exclusively to Husskie about everything from yoga to mindset, day on a plate and exercise and beauty routines.
We are constantly impressed with your yoga moves. When did you start practising yoga and why did you first get into it?
I started practicing when I was about 18 years old during recovery from a deep depression starting when I was in Grade 9 at school. I had recently moved interstate for study and had stopped all of the sporting activities I had done during my childhood and teen years at home. After a few weeks, I noticed how much I missed moving my body and how important it felt to me to be active for my mental health. So, I decided I’d take up jogging (I’d run about 9-13kms every second day or so) and this turned out to be a moving meditation of sorts. I also started “stretching”. With a history of gymnastics when I was very young, I found myself trying yoga poses I would see on Instagram. It wasn’t until a few years later that I did my yoga teacher training course and it was then that I truly found yoga… or if I’m honest, it found me!
Initially I thought yoga was just those physical movements and poses. For the first year or two, I didn’t have any clue how to put one pose next to another. I wasn’t doing “flows” or following Youtube tutorials etc like I probably should have been. I was just trying to do one single pose at a time. My initial 200hr yoga teacher training was my first introduction to what yoga REALLY is, and also my reunion with how good I could feel as a human. It was one of the best tools for me to recover from anxiety and depression, as well as a big game changer for my entire life and overall wellness!
What is the main appeal of yoga to you now? Has this changed from when you first began?
Yes definitely! Yoga is such a personal journey. I believe it finds us when we need it most, and then it changes and we grow with it. It is a constant and fluid journey of self discovery, self acceptance and love. It’s the balance of give and take, push and pull, challenge and surrender. Whoever is teaching you yoga is not your yoga teacher, the practice itself is the teacher. And it is an open catalyst to help us learn the lessons we need at that very moment. I truly believe that. And that is why yoga is so appealing to me and has continued to be such a passion! It isn’t predictable. Sure, we can repeat the same poses often, but it is what our souls need to learn in each pose in each moment that is what keeps me coming back. And that is different every single day.
Do you feel like yoga keeps you mentally balanced as well as physically?
100%! People think that because I do so much yoga that I must be really calm and grounded, but the reality is that I NEED yoga because without it I am downright crazy, haha!
Do you feel that yoga has helped you stay grounded during this Covid period?
Definitely yes… but to be honest, I haven’t been doing the same amount of yoga as I would normally do BC (Before Covid). I love going to my local yoga studio YogaLoft (or new studios if I am travelling) and find it a really valuable tool as a yoga teacher to engage in and experience other people’s classes and teaching styles. I LOVE it. I certainly enjoy my own practice too though and have never EVER regretted getting on my mat. Every time I get back into my practice I am reminded why I love it so much – ESPECIALLY at these times.
You’ve previously spoken out about anxiety and depression. Do you feel that these old insecurities sometimes creep up again? If so, how do you deal with them?
Yes absolutely! That’s HUMAN! And it is entirely okay to feel those things from time to time.
As humans, we are blessed with the opportunity to feel a whole array of emotions, both good and bad… insecurity, anxiousness and sadness included. I try to find gratitude for every phase of my emotions and mood and sit with each sensation, explore it, learn why it is coming up and what it is trying to do FOR me, not TO me. Understanding that, as well as learning how to self soothe and attaining some coping/healing strategies have been game changers for my mental health. I didn’t know that then.
Seeking support and building awareness, understanding and GRATITUDE for the entirety of this human experience and all that it encapsulates are my biggest lessons in this lifetime so far, I feel. And after experiencing anxiety and depression in my teens, I can now help empathise and support other people going through similar things.
How many hours a week would you practice yoga?
It depends, I don’t necessarily do a set amount of hours. I do yoga for the joy of it. I do some form of yoga daily, but it may just be 5-10 mins of moving my body and connecting to my heart space in the sunshine, or it may be a 90 min hot and sweaty practice in the studio. I just listen to my body and honour it by giving it what it needs in that very moment.
Do you take part in any other exercise regimes?
Yes and no. I like to be outdoors, connected to nature and I LOVE to move my body. I don’t have other “exercise routines” I do, but I engage in daily incidental exercise – like going for big sunrise or sunset walks, or beach strolls, or surfing sometimes. For Mother’s Day this year, my Mum wanted monkey bars so we spent the day setting up a big kids playground in the backyard, so I hang around on those most days too. Hikes and bushwalks when I’m away on trips and exploring new places by foot is usually my favourite way to stay active without even meaning to.
Are you also quite strict when it comes to what food you eat?
No, not at all! I listen to my body and give it what it needs. I have been coeliac since birth, so everything I eat needs to be gluten free and I choose to live a plant-based lifestyle, so I mostly eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and sometimes tofu or tempeh. I feel that our bodies are constantly communicating to us. We KNOW what makes us feel good and what doesn’t. The more natural I eat (more from the earth, less from a packet) the more energy and vitality I have. I just choose to eat what gives me the most vitality.
Can you talk us through a typical day on your plate?
Every day is so different! It depends what is in the fridge to cook with, the weather, where I am in the world, who’s cooking etc! At home and recently, it’s probably something like a cup of herbal tea and some supplements (hemp seeds, medicinal mushrooms, DHEA and B12, zinc drops) first thing in the morning, then breakfast is likely either gluten-free toast with some mushrooms, spring onion, avocado, hummus, fresh herbs and baby spinach OR an açai bowl if I prefer something sweet. Lunch and dinner are always different, either bulky salads, buddha bowls, wraps, vegan pizza, home made soup, roasted veggies and baked pumpkin and potato, stir fries or some kind of plant-based bolognese. Honestly, my mum is such a good cook and I enjoy cooking so much too that there are always different things on the menu.
Food and exercise aren’t the only part of people’s wellness routines these days. Do you have other routines you engage in to help your body and mind?
I don’t so much see wellness as a “routine” as I do a way of being – for example, choosing to live a more sustainable, balanced life. Gratitude is also key; the ability to be humble, grounded and connected not only to yourself but also to the global consciousness and the souls around you. Meditation, mindfulness and gratitude journaling are big ones for me, as well as connecting to nature. Being in nature is HUGE for me. It helps me so much to just get outside and realise that we are all just so blessed to be here. I also find doing things more slowly, and connecting to myself and those around me in each moment helps more than I would ever have imagined.
I try to take the mundane, daily tasks and approach them with intent, care and love. My hair care routine for example, I take pride in my ability to choose a hair care brand that I know I can trust, is good for my own being and eco-friendly. I choose to use Maui Moisture because I know I am investing in quality hair care and the brand and people behind it. I support their ethos, their mission and feel empowered knowing I am supporting that. They don’t test on animals and their products are free from nasties like silicon, parabens, mineral oil and sulfated surfactants. Then each time I wash my hair, I make it like a ritual or moment of gratitude. I slow down, and indulge in the aromas and sensations. A bit of mood music never hurts either.
So that’s the secret to keeping your hair looking so healthy despite being such a massive beach goer!
The secret is in my shampoo and conditioner!! Maui Moisture is my go-to haircare because they use aloe vera as the first ingredient and all the formulas are vegan. The aloe vera is the best for rehydrating my hair, especially after any long days at the beach, and the new awapuhi flavour makes it feel and look so nourished and shiny. I also love that the collections are infused with exotic ingredients like Awapuhi, which is a Hawaiian ginger flower known as the ‘shampoo flower for shine’. The new Awapuhi range was inspired by the tradition of Hawaiian – women squeezing the juice from the awapuhi flower onto their hair at the waterfalls to help add shine.
Can you talk us through your at-home haircare routine?
For sure! There’s no secret and no 14 step plan to follow. I don’t spend hundreds of dollars on expensive products or salons, I don’t colour it, and very seldom do I even straighten it. It is VERY simple. I just wash it every few days with my Maui Moisture shampoo and conditioner, allow it to dry naturally, and then let it be. That’s all I do!
What about your beauty regime?
I have a handful of products that I love from the Biossance range. Their omega repair cream, squalane eye cream and the lactic acid resurfacing night serum are my go-to’s. Coconut oil, a bit of sunshine, time in nature, and a smile go a long way too.
And lastly, just before you go – what is your number one rule when it comes to maintaining a happy healthy mindset?
Gratitude! It’s impossible not to be happy, when you have an abundance mindset.